Staying Connected Thru Emerging Media

The holidays are a great time to remind us the importance of keeping in touch with family and friends.  Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed a steady decline in the number of traditional Christmas cards and an increase in the number of online greetings we receive this time of year.

According to a 2010 study at the Pew Research Center, online users ages 50-64 make up the fastest growing group of social media users. It’s only logical they would integrate emerging media into their personal lives to help stay connected.  

Facebook and Skype are “a great way for older people to keep track of the lives of people who are important to them,” said Doug Shadel Washing state director of AARP.

In Washington, 70 percent of people age 45 and older who use the Internet have at least one social media account, according to a survey AARP Washington conducted last year. More than two-thirds said social networking sites are a great way to stay in touch.

Josh Seftel, an award wining independent film maker was looking for a way keep his aging mother connected to the family (she lives in Florida, he lives in New York), so he bought her an iPad and taught her how to use Facetime (she calls it facelift). 


He began recording their conversations and uploading them to YouTube.  Pat Seftel expounds on everything from Boston Red Sox facial hair to twerking to the latest releases from Hollywood.  Hence the title – My Mom on Movies. 

(Here’s the link –

Her companion Facebook page has almost 900 followers!

 If you can’t be there in person, this is certainly a clever substitute!  


To wifi or not to wifi?

As we make the final mad dash for the holidays, a discussion has come up in our home.  I would imagine that it’s one that’s being repeated across the country.  Should we have technology-free zones? 

I have a rule.  When we are eating together at the dinner table, when we are at special events, when we have company at our home, mobile phones are not allowed .  Adults usually get this, my daughter does not.  But as the adage goes “My house, my rules”.  She grudgingly obliges.

We took a vacation to Alaska last summer.  We could get mobile service on the cruise ship, if we wanted to pay some unbelievable roaming charges, like $80 a minute. It was tough the first couple of days but eventually, bliss was achieved.

So, here I am in December, planning the family vacation in July.  The question is this – is it possible to have a stress-free vacation in the digital age?

Perhaps for not much longer.  Even the U.S. national parks, long a bastion of peace and tranquility (except when someone spots a moose off Yellowstone main road) are being pressured to join the digital age.

I heard a story recently on John Hockenberry’s radio show, The Takeaway.  The National Park Service is trying to be more responsive to consumers’ demands and remain competitive in the tourism market.  Park managers are “grappling with the question of how much technology to integrate into national parks” considering  everything from coded signs that park-goers can scan with their smart phones to access information about the parks, to weather updates via text message, and the integration of cellular and wireless service.  It’s a fine line to walk in the digital age.

Here’s the link for the story:  The Takeaway

It’s not just a question of whether to wifi or not to wifi, national parks don’t want to be left out of the choices when people are making vacation plans.

Park officials are hoping that by embracing these types of technologies will appeal to a new generation of consumers, who wanted to stay connected.  Ah, youth.

Some parks have already begun working with emerging media to promote themselves

In addition to the Facebook page for the National Park Service, Acadia National Park in Maine has created a Facebook page to encourage visitors to explore the park and “tell us what you think is cool”.

The YNP Wildlife application gives visitors real time updates of Yellowstone wildlife sightings. Even when the device is without service, the application stores all sighting information and uploads it automatically when service is regained. It will also check for new sightings.

I appreciate that vacations are a time to unplug and escape 21st century civilization but there should be a happy medium to be reached.  As travel writer Samantha Brown observed, we are transitioning from “we were there to a we are here society”.  As we move forward in this brave new world we will need to find a way for nature and technology to co-exist.


A New Spin on Holiday Shopping!

I’m pleased to report I survived the first full week of Christmas shopping.  And I have mobile technology to thank for it.  In case you didn’t hear, Monday, December 2 was the revered Cyber-Monday, the day millions of Americans logged on to e-commerce sites to hunt down bargains ranging from $200 flat screens to free shipping.  And not surprisingly, Americans are using their mobile devices more and more to tackle the holiday gift list.  Early results indicate online shopping was up more than 17% over Christmas 2012.  Mobile devices accounted for almost 30% of all purchases.

I may be a marketing professional but I still get impressed when someone figures out a way to make the same old experience new again.  And, as an extra added bonus, I get to save a little money and time this Christmas!  That’s a win-win.

Under the theme “Paying Full Price is for Suckers’, Tekzilla uses its YouTube channel to offer “tips, tricks, product reviews and how to’s for shoppers.”

As consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on their mobile phones and tablets, savvy retailers are rising to the occasion.  Here are a few of the neatest apps I’ve heard about and used this holiday season.

  1. RetailMeNot – This free app lets you search for coupons from your favorite stores, so you can instantly save 10 percent, 20 percent or even more on a single item or your entire shopping cart.  The app of available for iPhone and Android devices.
  2. Flipp –  This free app works with retailers to convert traditional print fliers digital.  The digital version is identical to the paper one, and you can flip through it with a flick of your finger. You can also search by a store’s name and digitally “clip” deals you want to save.  So far, this is only available for iPhones.
  3. SnipSnap – If you like to clip coupons (and who doesn’t?  Me!)  SnipSnap lets users digitally clip copies of their favorite coupons to store within the app until you are ready to use them.  Free and available for iOS and Android devices.

So what are we waiting for people?  There are only 14 more shopping days!!!


A Whole New Ball Game?

Like millions of Americans over the Thanksgiving weekend, I spent a good portion of it watching football.

I’m a Texan.  We cut our baby teeth on football on this state.  Some of my earliest memories are watching Roger Staubach and America’s team battle the evil empire (i.e the Washington Redskins) for world domination (or so I thought) on Sunday afternoons.  I would sit in the stands (we had season tickets), toes numb and cheeks frozen from the late November blustery north wind, cheering on my heroes with my father and brothers.  I remember the old stadium had a hole cut into the top.  My father used to say it was done so God could watch his favorite team.  You get the idea.  If not, here’s a moment of glory.  Although I can’t be certain, I was probably there.

Fortunately, the NFL has recognized that their fan base has changed from the early gridiron days.  They understand that women are a growing and influential demographic with discretionary income to spend on our favorite teams.  They recognize that emerging media can help reach this audience.   As part of the ‘Together We Make Football’ campaign, thousands submitted videos and stories sharing why they love football in a contest to win a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII.

But, in recent years, I’ve been disturbed by the reports of undiagnosed or ignored concussions and head injuries in the NFL.  I watched the shocking report on FrontLine a few weeks ago (if you haven’t seen the PBS program, here’s the link

 So I couldn’t help but notice when the NFL began responding (finally) to the criticism that they were ignoring the inherently dangerous risks around head injuries.  As a parent, and a football fan, the talk inevitably turns, at each game to head injuries and what more we can do to protect our kids, especially as they advance from peewee programs to more physical high school ball.  Some parents have even decided to take their sons out of football programs rather than run the risk.

The NFL has clearly taken notice by launching its Heads Up program.  The program is run by USA Football, a non-profit that gets funding and promotion from the NFL.   This year, USA Football says 2,800 youth programs with about 600,000 players have joined.

Supporters of the league say it’s the right thing to do and it’s the natural progression of a program that began more than a decade ago.  Critics say it’s simply a savvy business move on behalf of the NFL to help assure parents that football is safe. 

Either way, USA Football is using social media, video and public relations to help put its case in front of the target demographic.  The USA football website has links to the Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube accounts, among others.  

A recent pin on Pinterest

A recent pin on Pinterest

Maybe I’m a little jaded but the message seems a little…forced.  We appreciate the support and the helpful tips but how exactly are you going to keep our kids safe?

I don’t have sons but I have friends whose children play.  I don’t follow any particular team (I stopped following the Cowboys when Jerry Jones bought the team – don’t get me started) but I’ve known quite a few players from high school and college who went on to play a few precious years with pro teams.  I see some of my heroes now, with hopelessly fading memories and chronic, debilitating injuries.  I hear about the 4,000 plus ex-players who have filed suits alleging the league knowingly failed to protect them from concussions for decades.  And I wonder, why is the NFL getting involved in youth football and safety now?  I watch the entertaining videos and see the fan wear created especially for me.  I just keep getting the feeling we’re the ones being played now.  I love the game but an athlete shouldn’t need to put himself at risk for brain damage for my entertainment.  I don’t have the answers but I  can’t help but feel that it might be time for some changes.  



Let’s Get This Party Started

I confess.  I’ve wanted to start a blog for several years now.  Not really sure what kept me from trying it.  I jumped into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, with no problem.  But a blog somehow seems more … personal.  I didn’t say this was a logical fear.  

So, assignment at my fingertips, it’s time to start.  To begin, I created the title from one of my favorite Donald Fagen songs.  He’s a founding member of Steely Dan and as cool as the other side of the pillow.  I’m fairly certain only a few of you will recognize Donald Fagen or Steely Dan but trust me when I tell you to add a couple of martinis and some Donald Fagen or Dave Brubeck and you have a pretty cool shindig.  The song is The New Frontier.  “We’ve got provisions and lots of beer.  The key word is survival on the new frontier.”

We are on a brave new frontier of communications with the advent of social and digital media.  Since I’m new to blogging, I thought I would start by looking for some recommendations on how to write and interesting and insightful blog.  Here are a few tips I found on : 

A blog post should contain several points that catch a reader’s attention including 

  • Eye-catching title
  • In-text links to landing pages
  • Sidebar/banner calls to action
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Call to action at the bottom
  • Relevancy—making sure the post is relevant from top to bottom

Make sure you take the time to edit your work.  Like other forms of writing, a blog post is rarely completed in one draft. Many writers find it helpful to take a post through several revisions and fine-tune the post as you go along. Check grammar, spelling and punctuation, and make certain that all of your links are working.

Make sure the content you are providing is targeted to the right demographic.  

Possibly one of the worst mistakes a blog post can make is missing the mark of its readers, forgetting who they are and their needs and interests.

Helpful content should be user-focused (asking what our users’ problems and priorities are), communicated clearly and presented in succinct language.

Content should be valuable.  

In the perfect blogging world, creating valuable content would be at the top of every blogger’s list for their post objectives.

While our definitions about valuable content may vary, ask yourself these five questions:

  • Can the user find the content
  • Can the user read the content
  • Can the user understand the content
  • Will the user want to take action
  • Will the user share the content

See the complete list here

I’m looking forward to flexing this new baby muscle in the next few weeks.  Here’s to our survival in this brave new world!